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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Would Meds Help?

Disclaimer: I've been accused of "oversharing" before and today is probably one of those days but if it means that one person will feel less alone, then it is worth it. Like thousands of other people, I am fine about 80% of the time. It's the other 20% that I talk about here (and those are rough estimates).

When I was on Prozac after we found out the boys would battle Cystic Fibrosis, I didn't care about the stigma that surrounds taking antidepressants.  When my doctor suggested I take something after I broke down in his office, I gladly said yes. He could have offered me crack and I would have said yes. I just wanted to stop hurting. I longed for something that would bring me back to me (we've already established that nothing short of a time machine will do that). I didn't think that what was wrong was that I was depressed since I thought that if things were different in my life, I would have been fine.

I had situational depression. Would I have been depressed or needed to take meds if Cystic Fibrosis (10 years and I still hate the word) wasn't a part of our lives? I'll never know because it was. Would I have been depressed if Rocco had lived? I'll never know because he didn't. That makes me sad. I don't want to belong to the "situational depression" club.

I probably should have gone back on them after Rocco died but I didn't. There wasn't any specific reason for why I didn't other than I didn't want to go to the doctor. Then I had Gia. I felt strong and I told myself that I had everything I ever wanted so I wouldn't be depressed anymore. That's where I think the stigma comes in. I should be stronger. I shouldn't need help.

Why can't we admit that we need help? Life is hard. When we look around and we realize that we DO have everything we want and we STILL can't get out of bed or we are STILL crying at the drop of a hat or we are STILL walking around with a knot in our stomachs, don't we owe it to ourselves to find a way to feel better? Don't we owe that to our family? I don't want to be "Sad Mommy" or "Anxious Mommy" or even "Angry Mommy."

The hardest part is getting a glimpse of true joy and having it snatched away. Grief is good at the sucker punch. It sneaks up on you and steals your joy. Tommy played on the field that is named after my dad and a moment of sheer joy was overshadowed by the fact that Rocco was buried under the sign for the field. Instead of seeing my son playing baseball, I had images of a four year old little boy running around cheering his big brother on. (Please don't say that Gia wouldn't be here if he was because I don't believe that.) If I was on meds, would it make those stabs at my heart hurt less?

The reality that I am raising my kids differently than I previously thought makes me feel anxious. I know how I want to do it but because of what they battle, no time spent for family, the never ending go, go, go (no homemade meals, living out of the car lifestyle) and that I have a lot going on at once contributes to the anxiousness. I've already mentioned that parenting a teen and a toddler is the hardest thing I have ever done. Would being on meds make me feel less anxious and make it seem less hard?

Speaking of feeling anxious, will I spend the better part of the rest of my life worrying that my kids are okay? School issues, friend issues, sports issues, girl issues, opposite sex's all so overwhelming. Again, there are glimpses of joy but then when you have four kids, they aren't all okay at the same time. Would meds help me to relax about their issues?

The last part is the hardest to talk about because I really do wonder if I am alone in this. I can't remember the last time I looked in a mirror. I mean really looked. I go through the motions of doing my hair (luckily the shag/mullet is pretty low maintenance) and makeup (what little I wear) and I'll catch a glimpse of myself in public and wonder, "Who is that?" How did I get to this place when I don't even see myself anymore? When I do look in the mirror going through the motions, I see Nico's impending freedom and how I am not sure I am ready for it, Tommy's worries and how hard he is on himself, Isabella's girl issues (because girls always have them...why can't they just be nice)  and the stomachaches she keeps having with no physical cause and Gia...wondering if I am being the mom that they all need. I see Leo and how his life seems to be exactly the same as it has always been and mine seems to be changing at warp speed leaving a path of destruction in its wake. Would meds help me feel less invisible?

My biggest fear is that my kids will see how overwhelmed I am and think is is because of them. They shouldn't have to understand why I want to sometimes crawl under a rock. That if I don't figure out what I need, I'll be "Sad Mommy" or "Anxious Mommy" or worse, "Angry Mommy" and they deserve so much more than that. I want to be "Happy Mommy," Would meds help me be the mom I want to be?

The question is: Would meds help? What do you think? Who isn't afraid to say they are on them? Who isn't afraid to tell me I am not alone?

Linking up with Shell today:


At May 23, 2012 at 5:30 AM , Blogger Barefoot blogger said...

Dropping by from PYHO and wishing so much I had something to write here that change things. Like you say, short of a time machine, that's not possible though.

I think the decision about meds depends on so many factors, including you own state of mind, and I know it's really hard to get your head straight enough to even think it through logically.

If you went to you doctor, though, this doesn't mean you HAVE to take them, but it may give you an opportunity to talk to someone who could help you sort out your thoughts a bit more coherently than they may feel in your own head? I know going will be hard, but it may be the first step in a decision you're happy with.

At May 23, 2012 at 6:02 AM , Blogger AnnMarie said...

Good advice. The problem I'm having is that I am not a big fan of doctors these days. Plus, I have gone and talked to two and they had their own thoughts as to what I should be on. One was a med that made me sick and one was the birth control pill. I just wanted Prozac because it helped me before. Thanks so much for coming over from PYHO. :)

At May 23, 2012 at 6:24 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you keep living in a state of anxiety, I think your body automatically goes there. Medication (used temporarily) can be helpful to break the cycle. Please know that our generation of moms is in a very challenging place because nothing ever stops or closes - even tv! It is up to us to set boundaries and it is next to impossible.

At May 23, 2012 at 6:39 AM , Blogger Lisa said...

Wow! What a brave, beautiful post. I just want you to know that you are not alone. My heart aches for you, and at the same time, I feel like I have read something I could have written. Although we may not have the exact same life experiences, we have things in common. I have considered meds, but have not taken any thus far. The last time I asked about them, I was told to try diet and exercise first. I am sure that they can be a definite help, but I don't have first hand knowledge with any of them. I don't think anyone should feel stigmatized if they need medication to make life better/easier. Thank you so very much for writing this! You have done a great thing by letting others (like me), know that even though we feel like we are drifting alone in the ocean, there are others like us. Hugs to you!


At May 23, 2012 at 7:15 AM , Blogger AnnMarie said...

I love this, Leslie! I love the acknowlegement that being a mom right now is challenging and that it never stops and even when we try and set boundaries, it IS near impossible. Thanks for the comment and support!

At May 23, 2012 at 7:19 AM , Blogger AnnMarie said...

Aw...thanks so much Lisa! That was my goal while writing it: to help others feel less alone (and maybe to help myself feel less alone) so reading this makes me feel like I did just that. I heard the diet and exercise thing, too. The problem with that is that I would eat when feeling crappy which would make me feel worse and then I'd have to exercise and I never did find those endorphins that everyone was talking about. Big hugs to you, too!

At May 23, 2012 at 7:54 AM , Blogger mCat said...

First I admire your bravery in the post. While I usually overshare as well, I had to leave my depression and anxiety off my blog so that my mother and friends didn't freak out and smother me with attention.

I think us mother's live in a constant state of anxiety. Merely for the fact that we feel so responsible for our children. Health needs, emotional needs, and physical needs. I learned early on, that based on family history and life events, that I could NOT physically do it on my own. I started Prozac and stayed steady for several years. When my daughter in law killed herself and our life (though had been a nightmare for the previous 6 years) literally upended into pain and anguish like no other, I knew that my prozac wasn't going to be enough. We added a little more of another anti-depressant, some anti anxiety at night so I could sleep, and continued to function as best as possible. There were, and still are, some days where I never venture out of bed. And I have come to accept that. Meds made all the difference in the world, as did sticking with my running. Each person needs to find what works for them. The biggest help is knowing that you are NOT alone and that so many of us are fighting similar battles and have many of the same feelings. Doesn't change or ease your own, but at least you feel like you belong somewhere. Not our funnest club, but a club nonetheless

At May 23, 2012 at 8:07 AM , Blogger AnnMarie said...

I love this comment so much. I thought about it for awhile now on whether I was going to share this. I didn't for the same reasons you didn't. It just got to a point that it was too heavy a load to carry alone. I wanted to know if I was alone. Do other moms feel this way? Happy and crappy at the same time? Thank you for making me feel less alone. I am sorry that you are a member of this club too but so glad that we at least have each other to lean on.

At May 23, 2012 at 10:39 AM , Blogger Missy | Literal Mom said...

AnnMarie - you are making me cry today! What a heartfelt post. And really, you're saying things I think about often too - but often just shove back down my throat and say I don't want to think about that. The mirror thing - Lord YES - I do the same thing these days - walk past a reflection see myself and have no idea it's me. So I understand.

I also understand the overwhelmed feeling of kids and kids and kids and kids and the endlessness of kids. Loving them more than life itself, but feeling so exhausted by it all sometimes. I won't try to understand the extra challenges you have, but I hope it helps you to know I have the same overwhelmed feelings too.

BIG hug.

At May 23, 2012 at 10:51 AM , Blogger AnnMarie said...

It does, it does, it does! Thanks for taking the time to comment to let me know I am not alone.

At May 23, 2012 at 12:21 PM , Blogger Meredith said...

You are so not alone! I have been on and off anti-depressants my entire adult life. My mom just died and I should be on them now again, but the side effects started to be too much, so now I'm off and blah blah blah. Sincerely wish I could be emotionally stable without chemicals, but just isn't in the cards for me. Go you for sharing--and keep doing it. People just don't talk about this enough, but we should--so many can relate, I'm sure!

At May 23, 2012 at 12:59 PM , Blogger AnnMarie said...

Sorry to hear about your mom. You just nailed it with, "I wish I could be emotionally stable without chemicals." I'm not sure it is in the cards for me either. Thanks for the words of encouragement!

At May 23, 2012 at 1:15 PM , Blogger Life As Wife said...

Whomever told you you were over sharing should kiss your grits! That is the point of a blog - to build a community and gain support.

I honestly think I had PPD after J was born. I was in a funk that was more than the baby blues. I didn't know and it went untreated. I think I lost some valuable time just trying to survive when I could've been happy.

Nothing wrong with helping yourself!

At May 23, 2012 at 1:19 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Definitely not alone! I think that no matter what, raising kids can cause us to be anxious. I mean, how important is our job?!! After having my daughter I struggled with ppa/ppocd for years on my own. After almost 3 years, I couldn't take it anymore on my own & knew I needed outside help. I decided to try a low dose of meds & therapy & for me it has helped tremendously. I am becoming the person & mom my daughter deserves & that I want to be. I used to feel so ashamed (reason why it took me years to finally try a med) but now I am so comfortable with my decision & proud that I did what I had to do! This is such a brave post. Huge hugs to you & good luck on whatever decision you make!

At May 23, 2012 at 2:04 PM , Blogger christine said...

AnnMarie this was such a brave post! I will gladly tell you that I am currently on an antidepressant and have been for quite awhile-- years). I also regularly see a therapist (and have for many years). I will openly tell anyone who asks about it, it was THE BEST decision for me. Especially the therapist. I know it's not for everyone, but it has helped me in oh so many ways, even just to help accept taking medication (and not feel guilty that I should be able to just "be better" on my own). I know our situations are very different, but if you ever want to talk more about it, or have questions about my specifics, I'd be happy to be in contact. Please just know that you are not alone and I am thinking about you.

At May 23, 2012 at 2:11 PM , Blogger AnnMarie said...

This made me laugh with the kiss my grits! You are so right about the point of a blog!

I'm sorry you went through that after J was born. That's a hard enough time as it is. Glad you are happier these days!

As always, thanks for the support!

At May 23, 2012 at 2:17 PM , Blogger AnnMarie said...

Oh, I know you have been through so much and I love getting to read how you are coming out on the other side. Good for you for being brave enough to tell your story and letting women know they are not alone. Thanks for the support and for reading!

At May 23, 2012 at 2:22 PM , Blogger AnnMarie said...

Ah, my is just like you to swoop in and lend support! You did it ten years ago and several times since then. I absolutely love you for it. I have seen someone off and on for years, too but I haven't been able to "fit it in" since Gia has entered the picture. I probably should see her again. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this comment (and happy belated birthday to Connor)!

At May 23, 2012 at 2:50 PM , Blogger Kimberly said...

Very brave, heartfelt post.These are things that I often think about but try to shove back down inside because I'm afraid. Afraid of what? Admitting that I need help? That I want to be a better person? Of the stigma that goes along with it all? I'm not really sure, but just know that you aren't alone.

At May 23, 2012 at 3:07 PM , Blogger AnnMarie said...

Yes. Those are exactly the things I am afraid of. As always, thanks for the support! And thanks for again letting me know that I am not alone.

At May 23, 2012 at 5:38 PM , Blogger Maria said...

Thanks for writing it. We girls are full of hormones. I think we should do whatever make us happy on any given day, especially if it was a bad one. It may be a pill, a drink, a joint, meditation, yoga, exercise, gossip, shopping, TV, etc. I would do it to make it easier on myself, not on my husband or kids. They will survive with whatever wife and mother they have, even if she is not a cheery one.

At May 23, 2012 at 5:58 PM , Anonymous Kimberly said...

I take medications because I am bipolar. Those medications are vital to me like they would be to someone who is diabetic.
They help me function everyday.
They stabilize me. They make the crippling anxiety that leads to paranoia go away. They make the crippling depression that makes me want to leave this beautiful world go away.
What they don't do is make me a better person/mom/wife/friend.
Underneath all that funk that my illness puts me through is me. Kimberly. The same old person I was before I was diagnosed...I just need help to pull her out from it.
That is where the stigma lies. People think that because you take medication for mental illness it will make you happier and it doesn't. It stabilizes you.
Your fears and worries and grief are validated. Absolutely
If you are feeling that you aren't yourself, let your doctor know. you know yourself best. Don't be ashamed of it. If you need to pull your beautiful self out of something dark then reach out friend.
Our minds are just like any other part of our body that needs to be healed.
Wishing you all the best friend. You're not alone xoxo

At May 23, 2012 at 6:27 PM , Blogger AnnMarie said...

Those darn hormones! I think maybe God gave me an extra dose. Margaritas and wine help with bad days. :) Thanks for the comment.

At May 23, 2012 at 7:03 PM , Blogger AnnMarie said...

Thanks for the support and good advice. I think the reason I said, "Happy Mommy" is because that is who I used to be. I'd love to pull her out again. I'm glad you are getting help and that the meds are working to stabilize you. I have talked to two of my doctors and they didn't want to put me back on Prozac since they said there are better meds now. The one he put me on made me sick. Thank you for letting me know I am not alone.

At May 23, 2012 at 9:49 PM , Anonymous Galit Breen said...

I love how transparent this is.

While I'm not on meds, I do know this for sure - you're definitely not alone and oh my, those worries - they are pervasive!

(I love that you opened this convo, and that you opened the door for someone who may need to read this, to do so. Go you, friend.)

At May 24, 2012 at 5:39 AM , Blogger AnnMarie said...

Thanks, Galit! It's one of those things that I wish people would talk more about. It helps to know that when you feel something, you aren't alone in feeling it.

At May 24, 2012 at 7:19 AM , Blogger Shell said...

I'm not on them now, though I was before. I was so embarrassed... until I realized just how many people were on them. We used to joke at the school where I taught that we should get some sort of bulk discount rate for anti-depressants or that they should just go ahead and put them in the water in the teacher's lounge, b/c so many of us were on them.

That helped me see how normal it was to need a little help sometimes.

At May 24, 2012 at 7:36 AM , Blogger AnnMarie said...

I think I need to get over the whole, "If I were a stronger person, I wouldn't need them." It does make me feel good to know I am not alone. Thanks, Shell for the support and the link!

At May 24, 2012 at 9:30 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ann, you know my story. I am so thankful for you. You reached out to me when I felt like I was alone and going crazy, but trying to hold it all together so no one would know I was crazy. How's that for a run on sentence? I did not decide to go on meds for 3yrs after losing Kansas. I have to say, the meds made me feel better right away. I started to sleep again. And my family no longer had to deal with a fly off the handle, over stupid stuff mom and wife anymore. Meds saved me. They taught me how to feel normal and how to handle things calmly.

Here is the yuck of it:
Five years later and I was 30lbs heavier and cholesterol through the roof. Over the five years I took different things. One med for this and one med for that. One stopped working, one made something else stop working (insert own thoughts here). So after five years of feeling level, I thought "I got this". It's time to try on my own. I wasn't even crying while watching tear jerkers. I also had changed some things in my diet and researched a lot about nature remedies.

The meds I was on, my doctor said "theres no exit route". Maybe you should have lead with that doc? I went cold turkey. It was rough for 2 weeks. I felt like a crack addict. I'm sure people are reading this thinking I'm crazy, but it's my story. That was just over a year ago that I quit meds.

I now keep myself balanced with different things in my diet. Niacin is a staple supplement for me. I have plenty more, but too long for that. And get this!! My weight and cholesterol has dropped for the better. My doc wanted to put me on cholesterol meds, he refused to believe the antidepressants were the cause. Well I'm not on any meds and I'm in good health, mentally and physically. Hu?!?

Sorry so long. Meds saved me, they saved my kids, they saved my marriage. Meds taught me how to behave and act like a normal feeling person. Meds got me to stop crying all the time. Meds helped me sleep. It is always a personal choice and screw anyone that tries to tell you what to do or not do. Without meds in my darkest moments, I would not be able to live in my brightest moments. I learned how to function. I think we loss track of ourselves at times. If meds help you find yourself? Is it maybe worth it? And when you are ready for the natural path, call me. I would not go back and change it. I don't know if I started with the natural path, I would have had the chance to learn how to be not crazy =)

Ann I hope this helps.

Heather Fil.

At May 25, 2012 at 4:39 AM , Blogger AnnMarie said...

It does help, Heather. Thanks for sharing your story. I'm so happy that you found your way out of the yuck you were going through. I do think one of the reasons I am so afraid to go on something is the side effects. When I was on Prozac my weight was fine but when I switched from that to Effexor, it wasn't and I remember looking at my kids laughing and feeling nothing. That scared me so I quit cold turkey and yes, felt like a crack addict going through withdrawal. I'm still on the fence but thinking I need to at least call my doctor. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment!

At May 27, 2012 at 12:09 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I cannot offer you any advice know that you are not alone. After the bith of my third child I plumetted in severe postpartum depression and I needed meds to help me come out of it. I eventually worked through it but I have struggeled with the ups and lows my entire life. Coming from a family that abuses medications I am not a fan of them but I do know they can help. The important thing to focus on is keeping yourself strong and healthy both emotionally and physically.

At May 27, 2012 at 6:19 PM , Blogger AnnMarie said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to tell me your experience. I'm glad you came out of it.

At May 28, 2012 at 7:33 AM , Blogger doseofreality said...

I have been meaning to come and comment on this since you wrote it. I just wanted to say, first of all, thank you for your honest and candor. Secondly, this post totally made me cry. Finally, as someone who has been on "happy pills" (as if they could even really be called that because they certainly did not make me happy, just semi-normal) before and who often considers going on them again, I say that if you think you need them, you probably do. I don't say that in a mean, judgmental way, but more in a realistic, if you are feeling like this, then you are feeling like this kind of way. And there is certainly nothing wrong with knowing you need some help to feel better.

At May 28, 2012 at 2:04 PM , Blogger AnnMarie said...

I kind of think the same thing. If I am thinking I need them, I probably do. I know you don't mean it mean or judgemental. That's not your way. :) Thanks for commenting and as always, supporting. We called them "happy pills" too and agree that they never made me happy, just semi-normal.

At May 30, 2012 at 6:17 PM , Blogger Peg said...

I just stumbled on your blog and boy am I glad that I did.

My sister and her husband were killed in a car accident and we have adopted two of my nieces to make five kids with our three boys.

I continuously toy with the idea of meds to help not be "anxious" mommy or unfortunately "angry" mommy/aunt. I'm not sure why I've been holding back. I do go to therapy once a week but I'm still struggling to balance all of the kids' needs.

Thanks for writing this. Maybe I'll get the guts up to try something.

At May 30, 2012 at 9:13 PM , Blogger AnnMarie said...

So glad you found me. I am so, so sorry for your loss. How incredibly difficult. I can't imagine. Not only are you dealing with your own grief but two more children are added onto your responsibility list. I really think I am going to call the doctor to find something. Life is too short to wonder if I would feel better. I should at least try. What do we have to lose?

At May 31, 2012 at 6:19 AM , Blogger Peg said...

Thanks. I'm thinking meds are going to be a topic of discussion again in therapy on Monday. I just never saw myself as a person needing that kind of help...but again I never saw myself going to therapy or more importantly taking on the girls. I also read through a bunch of your other posts...we're a baseball family too, although only our 10 year old plays. I got a huge kick out of your dislikes about baseball :)

At May 31, 2012 at 7:10 AM , Blogger Cathy said...

You probably won't see this but here it is anyway. I was advised by a very wise doctor not to do it, because those things often have a way of making the head worst instead of better. So I didn't do it and I came through. Older, wiser and tougher and very glad that I took his advice.

Grief is natural. It's very sad that grief is now seen as something unhealthy.

At May 31, 2012 at 7:18 AM , Blogger AnnMarie said...

I'm glad you liked the dislikes. :) Your life has definitely taken an unexpected turn which lends itself to doing unexpected things. I'm pulling for you over here. I spent about an hour reading your blog last night and how very, very brave you are. We do what we do because we don't really have a choice but that doesn't make it any easier.

At May 31, 2012 at 7:21 AM , Blogger AnnMarie said...

I see it. :) Thanks for stopping by. Definitely something to consider. I think that is why I didn't go on them after Rocco died. I agree that grief is natural. It's living with the boys' chronic illness and the overwhelming anxiety that raising the four kids along with it brings. I think that is a whole different ball game.


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